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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Stanislaus County Officials Hold Press Conference

Aired April 20, 2003 - 18:13   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KELLY HOUSTON, STANISLAUS CO. SHERIFF'S DEPT.: ... new to report in the housing of Scott. He has had another uneventful evening. He has been treated much like any other maximum-security inmate that we have here.
He did have an opportunity last night to meet with his attorney and that was an uneventful meeting as well. Any of the discussions about what they had is obviously attorney-client privilege.

That was Mr. McCallister (ph) who is his on-record attorney.

What we have been able to determine this afternoon is that the anticipated arraignment of him is going to be tomorrow afternoon here in Modesto in the Stanislaus County courtroom, or the courthouse.

The proceedings and how that will occur is entirely up to the judge who will be presiding over the arraignment and that arraignment could also change. It could change to Tuesday morning, and that's a decision between the courts and the district attorney's office as they move forward in processing their paperwork in this particular case.

So as far as any new developments, that's all there is today and I'll be willing to take a few questions.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) how he's behaving and how long was the meeting with the lawyer?

HOUSTON: I don't know how long the meeting was. Scott's demeanor has been as it has been for the last day since he's been here -- it's been -- he's been rather quiet, he has been very courteous to the staff. He has been essentially by himself in the cell for the majority of the time that he's been here.

QUESTION: Has he shown much in the way of fear or apprehension about surroundings?

HOUSTON: He has shown a certain amount of apprehension and the way I've categorized it is much like you would see somebody who's never been in a custody environment; somebody who in his particular case has not been in any kind of facility and in this particular case he's being treated as a maximum security inmate which means he has guards with him when he makes any movements out of his cell for any reason, and he is essentially in a row with other folks that are facing charges similar to him.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) HOUSTON: Not that I'm aware of.

QUESTION: Is he on a suicide watch, Kelly?

HOUSTON: He is not on a suicide watch. The way he would be classified as a suicide watch is if he were to make some statements indicating that he intended on hurting himself or if there was some indication by the mental health professional that evaluates these folks and the classification deputies to put him in a suicide situation where he's watched 24 hours.

He is not in that situation; he's in one of a series of maximum- security single cells that we have here at this facility.

QUESTION: Any idea how long he's going to be in that single cell by himself?

HOUSTON: He'll be there until his arraignment and then at the arraignment a decision is made by the judge as to what happens next in the proceedings but up until that point, he'll continue to be in this six by nine cell which is our maximum security tier.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE). We heard he asked for a haircut.

HOUSTON: Right, which is -- no -- no he has not received a haircut and that's all I can say about that.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

HOUSTON: I don't know that.

SOPHIA CHOI, CNN ANCHOR: You've been listening to a news conference from a representative from the Stanislaus County Sheriff Department about the Scott Peterson case.

I want to bring in Kendall Coffey who is a former U.S. Attorney who is now in private practice in Miami to get his take on what he's heard.

Basically that Scott Peterson will be arraigned tomorrow and that he's being kept as a maximum-security inmate.

Kendall, your thoughts?

KENDALL COFFEY, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, as we watched the saga unfold there's a great deal of attention on Scott Peterson's actions. Strange things he's done, such as selling Laci Peterson's Land Rover.

The way he's acted withdrawn and difficult and cantankerous. Some are going to see in that the message of guilt that he's acting like somebody who did a terrible crime.

He, on the other hand, and the defense strategy will be as we sort of dissect these actions that they are the actions of an aggrieved person who has lost his wife and child and is falsely accused of a terrible crime.

So while his actions are going to be dissected every day by the hour, they're going to be two very, very different interpretations of what those actions, what those symptoms really mean.

CHOI: OK, Kendall Coffey, former U.S. attorney, thank you so much for your insights on this case, and I'm sure we'll be chatting in the coming days as this case continues to unfold. Thanks again.

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